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SDLP in disarray over approach to Council Power Sharing

25 May, 2005


Sinn Féin Chairperson of Magherafelt District Council Sean Kerr has dismissed SDLP criticism of his party for implementing the d'Hondt system of power sharing on the council last night and said that his party would not be deflected by criticism from individual SDLP Councillors or rejectionist unionists from demanding that the system be introduced across all 26 local authorities in the six counties.

Cllr. Kerr said:

"Sinn Féin have unashamedly demanded that all 26 local authorities introduce d‚Hondt as a system of allocating fairly and proportionately all positions within local councils. We have had some success in this effort over recent years. However the SDLP have adopted a different approach. On some councils they have supported power sharing while on others such as Moyle during the last council term they happily colluded with unionists and others to exclude Sinn Féin from senior positions. However Sinn Féin will not be deflected by criticism from individual SDLP Councillors or rejectionist unionists from demanding that the system be introduced across all 26 local authorities in the six counties.

"Last night on Magherafelt Council as with Strabane Sinn Féin successfully ensured the adoption of d'Hondt. The system ensured that Sinn Féin as the largest party with 50% of the seats became Chair for this year along with a DUP Deputy, as example of successful power sharing in anybody‚s book. Indeed at last nights meeting in Magherfelt the SDLP group actually declined to accept a number of nominations to positions of power in line with their strength while in Strabane their councillors operated the system effectively and fairly.

"The bizarre allegation made this morning by SDLP Councillor Kate Lagan that Sinn Féin have done anything other than ensure the successful implementation of d'Hondt in line with party policy is ludicrous. The SDLP leadership need to clarify if the objections raised to the running of d‚Hondt by a number of Magherafelt councillors last night is a departure from their support for this mechanism in delivering Executive positions under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. If the SDLP leadership adopted the argument and approach promoted by their councillors last night in Magherfelt then they would in fact not accept Ministerial positions in line with their electoral strength. This is a daft position to adopt and id one I suspect will not find much favour amongst the SDLP Assembly group." ENDS

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